Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time — Lectionary: 371
Stop judging. This seems to be a favorite passage from the Bible. Even folks who don’t apparently know any other Scripture at all are not slow in quoting this passage. But does Christ really call us to make no moral judgments whatsoever? Is this really a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card that allows anyone to get away with anything, and everyone else should be too afraid to say anything at all about their actions for fear of their own judgment? It seems to be used as such in today’s world. So much of Christ’s teaching and of Holy Scripture is devoted to showing us how to make right judgments that conform to the will of God… it certainly seems strange that in one sentence, Our Lord would abrogate all of that teaching.
Of course, there is a difference between judging an action and judging a person. We are all destined for judgment. Our Lord is the perfect judge… the just and merciful judge. To him alone belongs the role of passing judgment on a soul.
Still, all of us have to make judgments every day… not on people but on actions. We have to judge for ourselves if a given action is just: if it will bring us closer to Our Lord, or lead us away from him. We have to decide if we should do a given thing or avoid it… if we should act in a certain way, or not act in that way. But does that mean we can also advise other people on what actions they should or should not undertake?
In this same passage, Christ teaches us to “remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” He’s not telling us to never judge actions, but to put our own house in order before we presume to reorder someone else’s. If we remove the wooden beam from our own eye – if we repent of our sins and amend our lives – we move closer to Christ, and are then able to act from a position of love instead of one of hypocrisy… one of genuine assistance and not of wrong judgment.
Rash judgment is always to be avoided. We should strive always to see the best in others, and yet when we see a person whom we love straying from the path that leads to their authentic good, we should call them to return to the right path… to return to Christ. Let us pray that such actions will always be taken from a position of love, and not judgment.